Sun | Oct 25, 2020

SEPROD says it remains committed to St Thomas

Published:Tuesday | September 22, 2020 | 12:12 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
From left: SEPROD Director Christopher Gentles; Chairman P.B. Scott; Corporate Secretary and Chief Financial Officer Damion Dodd; and CEO Richard Pandohie engage in conversation yesterday at the company’s annual general meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hot
From left: SEPROD Director Christopher Gentles; Chairman P.B. Scott; Corporate Secretary and Chief Financial Officer Damion Dodd; and CEO Richard Pandohie engage in conversation yesterday at the company’s annual general meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

Despite relocating its milk-production plant to Bog Walk in St Catherine in 2018 and last year’s closure of the Golden Grove Sugar Factory, in which it acquired major share holdings in 2009, the SEPROD Group of Companies has said that it has not forgotten the people of St Thomas.

After consecutive years of losses, the company last year shuttered its sugar operations, a write-off which cost about $700 million.

Chairman P.B. Scott blames “bad regulation” for SEPROD’s failure to turn around its fortunes.

“The regulation of the sugar industry is one that has just not led to increased productivity and efficiency,” he said in response to a question from a shareholder during yesterday’s 81st annual general meeting at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

When another shareholder asked, “Does SEPROD have any plans again for St Thomas in the near future?”, Group CEO Richard Pandohie was swift with his answer.

“We’ve never left St Thomas!” he declared.

Pandohie then went on to explain that the company was continuing to expand its dairy operations in the parish and was on track to making it one of the most modern facilities in the Caribbean.

“That’s one of our next major steps,” he added.

Admitting that there had been some misunderstanding about its recent business moves in respect of the eastern parish, Scott pointed out that when it discontinued its sugar operations, the company did not reduce investment in St Thomas.

“In fact, we are doubling our investments in St Thomas. We still have 6,000 head of cattle and are going to remain in St Thomas. We are gonna modernise our dairy techniques, and we are gonna be putting a lot more investments in St Thomas,” he assured shareholders.

Scott said the cultivation of cane would continue for the time being and hinted that in future, it could be harvested and processed for various other value-added initiatives.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com